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Child Care

Choosing the best child care is important for parents who work outside the home. Parents often stress and worry about making the “wrong decision,” but study after study has shown that children can thrive in almost any setting as long as it is a loving and supportive one.

Studies also confirm that the age a child begins daycare does not matter in the long term. There is no one best answer, but the various options have different strengths and weaknesses.

Stay-at-Home Parent

For many parents, this is the most ideal and safest option. If you choose it, you will quickly realize that it is a full-time job—a very desirable one where you can nurture and observe first hand as your child grows and develops. Sometimes, parents find the 24/7, one-on-one experience without “adult interaction” somewhat draining. In retrospect, you will see that these early months fly by and your child is in pre-school before you know it.

Family Member

This is a great middle ground for many families, who can go to work comfortably knowing that their child is still getting one-on-one attention. This option may take the most advanced planning to find the right person and to work out logistics and finances. The decision is very dependent on the caregiver and whether or not they drive, what to do if they become ill (back-up plan needed) and if their child-rearing philosophy conflicts with yours.

Group Day Care (Large or Small Groups)

Most facilities are state-licensed and adhere to strict standards of safety and responsibility. This option provides lots of fun activities, new experiences and socialization. Along with all the fun however, comes many germs and at first, children may have frequent colds and viral syndromes. Most of these illnesses are benign and short-lived and there is something positive to be said for young children developing antibodies to common infections early and later avoid missing weeks of pre-school and elementary school. Remember, most facilities will not allow your child to attend when they are sick, so a back-up plan which allows a child to recuperate at home is necessary.

This is a brief discussion of just a few options and several others are possible. The key is to do early research, plan to visit group centers in person, always check references when appropriate and choose a plan which seems to best suit your family’s needs.